Pac-12 basketball: The Hotline’s picks for postseason awards and all-conference honors
Mon., March 6, 2023
Like the race for the regular-season championship, the competition for Pac-12 postseason awards turned lopsided down the stretch.
UCLA won the title by four games and should collect a bevy of honors when the conference reveals the results of the voting (by coaches) on Tuesday.
The Hotline prefers to call its shots ahead of the official announcements …
Coach of the Year: UCLA’s Mick Cronin. Yes, Cronin has the most complete roster. But talent acquisition is part of coaching, and player development is a gigantic part of coaching. Also, Cronin’s team dominated the conference like nobody in the expansion era, leading wire-to-wire and winning by four games. (The last team to finish at least four games clear: Stanford in 2004.) Details of the voting won’t be revealed, and coaches often get political. But Cronin should be the unanimous selection.
Player of the Year: UCLA forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. Until recently, this was Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis’ award to lose. And let’s be clear: He didn’t lose it; Jaquez won it. Tubelis has slightly better production (scoring and rebounding) and a better effective field goal percentage (total points per shots taken). But Jaquez was the best player in the conference when it mattered most — he averaged more than 20 points per game in February and March — and led his team to the title by an unprecedented four games.
Defensive Player of the Year: UCLA guard Jaylen Clark. Nobody had a greater impact on the defensive end than Clark, who is equally disruptive in man-to-man and off-the-ball situations. He is fifth in the country in steals (2.6 per game), one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award and the prime reason the Bruins rank No. 2 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency (per the Pomeroy ratings). His status for the Pac-12 tournament is uncertain because of an ankle injury suffered Saturday night against Arizona.
Newcomer of the Year: Washington forward Keion Brooks. The Kentucky transfer was as good as advertised: Third in the conference in scoring (17.8 ppg), eighth in rebounding (6.8 rpg) and eighth in blocked shots (1.3 bpg). And he did it without much help from surrounding personnel or a sound underlying offensive structure. We also considered ASU transfer Desmond Cambridge and UCLA freshman Adem Bona.
Lastly, our all-conference selections …
(The Pac-12 is expected to name a 10-man first team and five-man second team. We prefer the old-fashioned structure of three teams of five. And please note: Our picks were weighted heavily to performance in conference games.)
First team: UCLA F Jaime Jaquez Jr.; Arizona F Azuolas Tubelis; Washington State F Mouhamed Gueye; USC G Boogie Ellis; UCLA G Jaylen Clark
Second team: USC G Drew Peterson; UCLA G Tyger Campbell; Utah F Branden Carlson; Washington F Keion Brooks; Arizona C Oumar Ballo
Third team: Oregon F N’Faly Dante; Stanford F Spencer Jones; Colorado F Tristan da Silva; Washington State G TJ Bamba; ASU G Desmond Cambridge
All-freshman: UCLA F Adem Bona; USC G Tre White; UCLA G Amari Bailey; Oregon State G Jordan Pope; Washington G Keyon Menifield
All-transfer: Washington F Keion Brooks (from Kentucky); Washington State G Justin Powell (Tennessee); ASU G Frankie Collins (Michigan); Arizona G Courtney Ramey (Texas); ASU G Desmond Cambridge (Nevada)
All-defense: UCLA G Jaylen Clark; ASU G Frankie Collins; USC G Kobe Johnson; Utah F Branden Carlson; USC F Joshua Morgan
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